PHILADELPHIA - NOVEMBER 08: Quarterback Tony Romo #9 of the Dallas Cowboys stands under center against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field on November 8, 2009 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Cowboys won 20-16. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
It seems generally accepted that the Dallas Cowboys of 2009 are a ways off from the Dallas Cowboys of 2008. And this is a good thing.
Whereas the latter had a noticeable leadership deficiency, the former is a team rife with leaders, not the least of which is the new, more mature Tony Romo. The quarterback's development has taken shape on the field, where he has taken care of the ball like never before, and in the locker room, where he is looked to as the offense's leader.
Say what you will about his love for golf and/or blonds, the fact is, the Cowboys seem a united group, one which the media has gone great lengths to dub "all for one;" this is, as far as the offense is concerned, due greatly to Romo's maturation. It is vaguely reminiscent of the speech Al Pacino gives Jamie Foxx in Any Given Sunday, in which he says (and I'm paraphrasing, obviously) that as the quarterback, you are looked to as a leader, whether you like it or not.
Willie Beamen, of course, heeded his coach's words.
Similarly, in 2009 more than any other season, Romo has embraced this facet of his position. The 29 year-old talked about what he has learned on Thursday, in a session that may have just as easily been a pitch for a book about leadership.
"The best leaders I've ever been around are the guys who walk the walk, number one, you need to go out and do it, you need to show people you're doing it day in, day out, and people want to follow the people like that," Romo said. "Number two, you got to be able to perform, you got to have some ability to go out there and do it. And then on top of it, people need to know you're with them. I think if people know you have their back, and you believe in them, and you trust them, then there's never negative criticism."